You ask and it shall come! I have finally recorded my Yoga Nidra Deep Relaxation Meditation. Yay! This is a perfect meditation to do before bed, on your lunch break or just when you want to CHILL OUT! Take a listen and let me know what you think!
Acceptance is a tough concept to practice. For if we accept something, are we choosing to be lazy or to not make things better? I’ve been struggling with this concept since pregnancy and now post-baby.
I’m living in a completely different body than I was a year ago. My body is healing. I’m not getting the sleep I once did. I’m carrying around some pregnancy pounds. And I’m feeding another human. I’m itching to be where I used to be in my yoga and my running practice. I’m craving those endorphins and feeling confident in my own skin. But my body is not ready yet. I need to accept it.
But when I should accept and when I should push? How am I suppose to get stronger if I don’t try? It’s a constant ongoing conversation with myself.
A few days ago, I completed the Fox Foundation’s 5K FoxTrot. I went in with no expectations. I accepted where I was and how my body was feeling. I ran the first mile and then ran/walked the rest of the race. I walked as soon as I could feel my form slipping (core weakness huge factor) and ran when I felt strong again. I listened to how I felt in that moment and accepted it. Was it challenging? Yes, incredibly challenging! Every time someone passed me when I was walking, I wanted to say “I had a baby 9 weeks ago and I need to take it easy”. It’s amazing how our ego plays into everything. And this wasn’t the Boston Marathon. This was a casual race for charity! But again, it’s hard to not compare to our past selves or our expectations.
I have to accept this new body I’ve been given. Instead of looking at what I can’t do. What can I do? I ran/walked a 5K nine weeks after having a baby. That’s pretty amazing! I’m also learning. I’m learning to listen and to take care of myself in a whole different way. If I don’t take care of me, how I’m I suppose to give in other areas of my life?
Acceptance is hard but it can be our teacher if we allow it to be. What can acceptance teach you?
I can’t believe we welcomed Madelyn into this world 6 weeks ago today. Her entrance into this world was anything but fast. After 35+ hours of induced labor (my water broke) and 3 hours of pushing, she made her arrival. Those days in the hospital were incredibly challenging, exhausting, and scary. There was a point where I just wanted to get a c section to get her out. But the body is an amazing thing and the support provided to me during the whole process was incredible. My husband, the nurses, and my doctor gave me this feeling that everything would be okay no matter how scary or challenging it got.
I share this story not to scare those pregnant ladies out there, but for 2 reasons:
1) Every birthing story is beautiful whether it’s according to your plan or not. I look upon my experience with gratitude for not only bringing my child into this world but for the love and support I received. All you nurses and doctors out there are truly angels.
2) Our bodies can do the most incredible things. Growing a human was one thing but then getting it out was a whole other story. I’ve never wanted to appreciate my body so much. I’ve never wanted to be so compassionate and take care of myself so much before. I’m hoping today I will get the clearance to exercise and slowly (very slowly!) get into my running and yoga practice again but if I need more time that’s okay too. Self-compassion has never been so present for me before. We don’t need marathons or training plans or practicing yoga every day to prove that we’re strong or worthy, we already are.
I can’t believe that I’m 36 weeks pregnant (9 months!). The time seemed to pass by so slowly during the first trimester when I wasn’t feeling too well but now, as my due date is right around the corner, I can’t believe it’s almost here! Eekkk!
This pregnancy journey has been a wild ride and has taught me so much. I wanted to share some important lessons and reminders:
Listen to what your body is telling you. Whether you’re pregnant or not, when your body changes, it can be frustrating. I know throughout my pregnancy this is something I struggled with. I can honestly say that it wasn’t until I was 6 months pregnant that I finally accepted the change and began to really view my body as beautiful. The body is an incredible thing. It changes, adapts, and grows as we need it to. Instead of putting it down and trying to control the way it changes, it’s important to ask ourselves, why are these changes occurring? What are our bodies telling us? Are you growing a baby in your body? Are you stressed and overwhelmed and need to make changes in your life? Do you need more time for self care? All these changes start within ourselves and they will never stop happening. Instead of judging what’s on the outside, we need to assess what’s happening on the inside.
Even if you love it, if it’s not serving you, let it go. This is been a tough lesson for me to learn during my pregnancy. As you all know, I love running. It connects me to not only myself but to my community. I love nothing more than running with my RunYoga crew on Monday nights and my Marathon Sports Boston peeps on Wednesday nights. It was incredibly hard to let go. Around month 7 or so, I started to get inner groin pain while running. I decreased my mileage and frequency of runs but even running 1 mile per week was causing me pain. I heard so many stories of people running up until they went into labor and didn’t understand why this was so different for me. But it was time to say goodbye. Running was not serving my physical body and it was causing me so much frustration. I finally let it go. I looked at it as an opportunity to switch things up. I started swimming, upped my walking game (which Rudy was very happy about!) and kept my yoga game on point and felt so much better. Will I run again? Yes! Will it be a while? Yes! Is that OK? Yes! I’ll start to run again when it serves me both physically and mentally.
People love to help you. Let them! I take incredible pride in being independent. I love owning my business, managing my schedule, and taking it all on myself. Well, when you’re pregnant you can’t do it all anymore. This took me until months 8 of my pregnancy to realize. I can’t carry large speakers for events. I can’t do all the errands and manage a full time teaching schedule 6 days a week. I can’t carry my harmonium up and down flights of stairs. When people want to help you, let them! My husband has been trying to teach me this lesson throughout my whole pregnancy and I’m finally listening (sorry Jon! love you!). It’s hard to accept help. There’s something really empowering of being able to take charge and do everything yourself but I’ve learned first hand of how beautiful it is to let others in and to accept that vulnerability. People love to help and feel good helping you. Let them!
People judge you. Ignore it. Embrace your journey. Especially at this point in my pregnancy, there’s no hiding that I will be having a baby in the next couple of weeks. Because of this, I get comments regarding how I look all the time. I have found it so interesting that people I don’t even know have something to say about how I look (I get at least 1 comment every day from a passing stranger). I’m totally fine with these comments and I even add to the conversation but I know for others it’s tough. It’s important to remember, that pregnancy is an incredibly fascinating experience and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Just like our lives. Things change. Things shift. Things transform. Don’t get caught up in the comments and opinions of others. Let your journey and path be true to you. Just like every pregnancy is different, everyone’s life journey is unique.
Lastly, I finally know what’s it like to have boobs and to actually have cleavage! This might not be an important life lesson but it’s something worth mentioning and I thought I would end this blog post on a light, humorous note 😉
Can’t wait for you all to meet you our baby girl!
I’M PREGNANT! My husband and I are so excited to be welcoming baby girl Gilman into the world this August. This is something we have always wanted and truly feel incredibly blessed with this gift.
The journey to becoming pregnant has taught me so much. It’s always important to remember that our biggest challenges are our greatest gifts. They allow us to grow and discover a deep strength that we never knew we had.
I’m so excited to share this amazing news with each and every one of you! My due date is August 13th and I’m planning on teaching right up until then. I will be taking some time off after the baby comes, so sadly, the RunYoga Spring series will most likely be the last series for 2017. I will keep you all updated on my schedule as we get closer to this exciting date!
Take a deep breathe in. Fall is here and it can be overwhelming! New schedules, new roles, new places, i.e. CHANGE, takes time for adjustment and its important to give yourself the space to find perspective.
This is something that I have struggled with this month. As someone who loves a schedule and routine, this month as been challenging for me as I have been traveling for teaching and taking on new projects. Instead of trying to micromanage my schedule to find comfort, I have been working on becoming grateful.
As mentioned in my “Our Thoughts Create the World We See” blog post, our words have a powerful effect on our perspective of the world. So when I find myself feeling overwhelmed by change, I tell myself that this is not happening to me but for me. Every road block and every transition is providing something for us to learn and grow from.
Turning to this place of gratitude has been powerful not just in my life but I hear it day after day. A good friend of mine is about to embark through a number of huge changes in her life. In talking with her on how she was dealing with it all, she said, “Instead of looking at what I HAVE to do, it’s important to look at what I GET to do.” Such a beautiful way of putting everything into perspective.
We can’t control what happens to us but we can control what happens within us. Let gratitude give you the perspective to see change as an opportunity to grow and to view life events as a gift, not an obligation. Trust the process.
Fall is almost here! The crisp, cool air is on the way and so is running season! To get you back into the running groove, here are some tips and motivation to get you up and running!
1.DO YOGA: We forget that our strength doesn’t just come from our body, it comes from all parts of ourselves; including our minds and our hearts. Yoga will give you tools to control the hardest part, our mind. It will provide that extra inspiration to feel connected to your running and lastly, it will make you physically stronger and more flexible to keep those injuries away. It’s time to unroll that yoga mat and get started! Here are some specific classes and events that are for runners.
> RunYoga Fall Edition: 8 Mondays; starting September 12th
> Yoga + Running 3-Day Immersion at Kripalu: September 25th to 30th
> Yoga for Runners Weekly Class: Sundays, 12:45pm at JP Centre Yoga
> Yoga with Cara Gilman App: Download in the Apple Store
> Classes + events with Cara Gilman
> New to yoga? Here are some tips.
2. Be mindful: Meditation is a powerful way of completely changing up your running game. My biggest advice, make it simple. Define 1 word that inspires you to run. Sit down in a quiet space (recommend sitting against a wall and on a pillow or blanket), set your iphone timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and GO! You might find that your mind will want take over. Let it happen. Observe what’s happening and learn from it. Keeping breathing and repeating that word to find focus. Do this same process when you’re running. This practice will allow you to tame the negative self talk and give you that extra boost of inspiration while you run.
3. Balance Your Training: Practice and repetition is key to getting faster, however it’s important to not overdo it. On average, 62% of runners suffer from injury which is most often caused by doing to much (i.e. running too many miles). It’s important to balance your training with cross training (yoga, spinning, biking, swimming). I’ve found that running 3 or 4 times a week and practicing yoga 3 or 4 times a week is the perfect balance for me. This will allow you to get the necessary miles in without burning your body and mind out.
4. Rest up. Rest is a key component of training that we always forget about. It allows our physical body to rebuild itself so we can get stronger and lets our mind take a break from grind. Yoga Nidra is a great tool I learned while I was in India. Yoga Nidra, also called “yoga of divine sleep” and is awesome for grounding your energy down for mid day nap or before bed. I’m working on creating an audio file of this as we speak, but in the meantime, check out “Insight Timer App” via the Apple Store. It’s a free app and they have lots of ones to choose from.
5. Shake things up! If you live in Boston, there are so many ways to get your miles in besides running the same route over and over again by yourself. Especially is you’re looking to get faster times, I recommend integrating speed workouts (intervals, tempo runs, mile repeats), hill repeats and running with people! This will drastically change your running game. Here are some groups, that I would recommend running with:
> Forest Hill Runners at 6am + 7pm
> November Project (workout varies) at 6:30am
> RunYoga Series at 6 to 8pm
> Nike Club track workout at Ruggles Indoor Track at 6:30am
> RunFellow Club at 6pm
> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Forest Hill Runners at 7pm Tempo Run
> November Project (Stadium workout) at 5:30am/6:30am
> Marathon Sports Run Club at Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Brighton Bangers at 7pm
> Forest Hill Runners Ttrack workout at 7pm
> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> November Project (hills in Brookline) at 6:30pm
> Brighton Bangers at 9:30am
> Forest Hill Runners
After spending this past weekend at Kripalu, I finally got the itch to write. As many of you know, Kripalu has always been a place of transformation for me and having the opportunity to not only be a student at this special place but also a teacher, opened my heart completely.
During my stay, I took an inspiring workshop, The Energy of Our Thoughts led by Izzy Lenihan. It provided a lot of connections and reasoning to what I commonly say in my classes, “our thoughts and our words create the world that we see.” Our thoughts are the most powerful tools for change and if we can practice pausing and watching our thoughts, i.e. what our yoga practice is all about, then we can reduce the suffering in our life. Sounds easy right?
Obviously, it’s the hardest thing we can do and why we have suffering in our life. On average, we have 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day and many of these thoughts are the same thoughts that are repeated each and every day. For us women, 1,300 of these thoughts are negative. Our thoughts become habits and so we become stuck in these cycles, in yoga we call these sumskaras.
The question becomes how do we break these cycles of thoughts and pull ourselves out of this negative whirlpool? We destruct these barriers by working on the unconscious part of our mind. Everyday we experience the five following emotions: love, joy, anger, sadness and fear. I guarantee one of those emotions stands alone and zaps a majority of your energy every day. For me, that emotion is fear.
During the workshop, we were instructed to write a letter to our most dominant and unpleasant emotion. Here’s what I wrote in my letter:
You show up every morning to scare and intimate me. To make me feel like I’m not worthly of love or worthly of my role in this world as a yoga teacher, wife, sister and friend. You zap my energy and you’re exhausting! I keep waiting for the day when you will fade away but you’re always there; waiting in the wings. Yet at the same time, you motivate me and you almost inspire me. By experiencing you, I know it’s because I care and I’m afraid of failure. If only we could work together. Without you, life would be so much easier.
We then had to have our emotion write a letter to us. Here’s what fear wrote to me:
I’m here to let you know what you’re capable of. I’m your inspiration and keep you on your toes. What pleasure would you have in life if everything was certain? I bring excitement into your life and allow you to properly plan. Uncertaintly keeps you alive and it allows you to better appreciate what you have.
This exercise was very interesting for me. It allowed me to be very present with my emotion and instead of attaching my self worth to it, I was able to take a step back and observe it. I was able to LEARN from it.
“Honor your emotions and befriend them, for they have a lesson for your soul.” Such a beautiful way of putting it. Instead of letting the emotions of our thoughts drive us, how can we seperate from them and learn? What can they teach us?
Our thoughts create the world that we see. Instead of getting stuck in the energy and habits of our thoughts, we have to break the cycle. It’s time to work with our emotions by facing them. I encourage you to go through this same exercise. Write a letter to your most dominant unpleasant emotion you’re experiencing and then have that emotion write a letter to you. What did you learn?
I will end this blog post with this beautiful quote,
“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” –Chinese Proverb
I’ve been home from India a little over a week now, and with every day that I’m home, I realize more and more how much this experience has changed my life and my perspective.
Tuesday, January 5th was the day that I left for India and it feels like years ago. I woke up that morning in my husband’s arms with a strong feeling of love and calm, despite the anxious energy I was feeling about my trip. Going to India was a big deal. I’m not much of a world traveler so the thought of getting on an airplane and traveling across the world was terrifying. Plus, I heard story after story about the ins/outs of traveling to a place like India—poverty, sickness, jet lag, culture shock, etc. I was prepared for anything and everything but I was still terrified. However, this all changed that morning when I woke up; being in my husbands arms and experiencing that feeling of love and calm, I knew this trip was destiny and it would change my life.
This same feeling came over me when I arrived at my gate at the airport and met two of my classmates. Our program, SuperSoul Yoga 500 hour Advanced Teacher Training, had established a Facebook group and even though I was “friends” with everyone in my program prior to going to India, I had no idea what to expect. Our group consisted of people from all around the world—Australia, Sweden and Austria. However, once I met my classmates, I knew that I would be spending time with some amazing and inspiring people. I felt a sense of comfort and home just a couple minutes into our conversation.
Arriving in Mumbai late the next night, however, was a little less comforting. You can feel and see the pollution in the air; it’s this thick foggy haze. There’s constant beeping, everyone feels the need to use their horn all the time, and they also never drive in their own lane. And there’s extreme poverty.
I woke up that Thursday morning to singing. I looked out my window and down below and I saw this.
At first, I thought there was construction going on next to our hotel and the construction workers were blaring a radio. Then as I got closer, I realized that those were homes and the singing wasn’t coming from a radio, but were voices from those living below. As I listened closer, I was able to make out the words and it was the same phrase repeated over and over again. They were chanting the maha mantra, called the “great” mantra;
“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Which translates to, “Oh Lord, let me be of service today.” Little did I know that this chant would be something that I would chant everyday during my stay in India and also something I would bring home with me.
Our stay in Mumbai was short, as we left for the Govardhan Eco Village later that day to officially kick-off the start of our teacher training program. My Eco Village experience was much different than Mumbai. Everything was quiet, peaceful, and simple. We were welcomed with a candlelit dinner and this is how and where we ate every meal; outside under the cover of trees under the sun or under the star filled night sky.
Everything we ate came right from the farm and all the farm labor came right from the cows that lived there. Every product that came from the Eco Village was a sustainable product—soap, shampoo, etc.
In addition to 21 people that were part of our teacher training program, we shared this home with the great Radhanath Swami, monks, an orphanage and other visitors from around the world. Even though each community of people were so culturally different from one another, there was a special sense of oneness among everyone.
Our days at the Eco Village were full days—6am yoga practice which included meditation, chanting, pranayama and asana till about 8:30am. Then breakfast and a little bit of free time. Class time from 10am to 1pm. Lunch from 1 to 2pm. Sometimes a break from 2 to 3pm. Then class from 3 to 5pm. Satsang (songs and stories) from 5:30 to 7:30pm or so. Dinner till about 8:30pm and then some of us would gather before bed to play harmonium under the stars. We called ourselves the Radharani orchestra.
As hard as it was to get out of bed at 5:30am every morning, once I walked outside into the beauty of the morning, I was grateful for it. The stars were incredible—so big and bright and the light from the moon was so vibrant. Walking to yoga every morning reminded me why I had come so far from home to complete this advanced 500 hour teacher training certification; to reconnect with myself.
The attraction of completing my 500 hour teacher training certification with my favorite teacher, Raghunath Cappo, is what lured me into signing up for the program. Traveling to India was an added bonus since I knew I would most likely never have the opportunity to travel this far ever again. Yet deep down, I also knew I needed some major me time. Every morning that I walked to that yoga shula under that star filled sky, I allowed myself to remain open to whatever that day had to teach me and offer me. And each day had so many offerings and learnings.
We immersed ourselves into the Bhagavada Gita, the Yoga Sutras, autonomy, sequencing, assisting, advanced asana/transitions, meditation, pranayama and had the honor of hearing from Radhanath Swami almost on a daily basis during our satsangs in the evening. This immersion into yoga and our disconnection from my day to day and regular stimulation—tv, radio, phone, traffic, daily hussle, etc.—allowed my mind to actually be clear for one of the first times in a very long time and I actually felt present. I felt like a sponge; taking it every piece of information and wanting to learn everything. I also felt a strong connection with the world around me.
The simpliness of living in the Eco Village was the most beautiful thing. You felt connected to everything around you—the night sky, the moon, the stars, the mountain views, the cows—the peace and stillness allowed you to magically open. One of the memories I will always take with me is the night of the full moon. We had our evening satsang on the roof deck of the building where we were staying, and as the full moon rose over the mountains, we sang and we chanted,
“Hare Krisha, hare Krishna,
hare rama, hare rama,
rama, rama, hare.”
As we chanted those words I just kept reminding myself to keep disconnecting to connect. To trust that whatever is meant to be, will be. To never forget the power of finding stillness in the self to exist in a higher state of mind.
This higher state followed me right through the course of my training and even back to Mumbai where I spent my last day in India. Part of our graduation was participating in the annual flower festival hosted at the Radha Gopinath temple by Radhanath Swami. We spent the morning of festival plucking the pedals off of more than 3,000 pounds of flowers as Radhanath Swami spoke about the power of oneness and the power of love. Then that night, we headed back to the temple for kirtan as thousands of pounds of flowers were showered on us. It was such an incredible experience. The beauty of the flowers and the music, and being in the presence of a diverse community of people all united together, left me completely speechless at times with tears in my eyes and then at other times made me giddy and full of laughter. The energy in the room was indescribable. And that was my last night in India.
The next morning everyone met for breakfast and we all said our goodbyes. It was such a tough day. To have spent over three and half weeks with each of these individuals for more than 13 hours per day and then to say goodbye was devastating. I truly met the most incredible people and it was so sad to think that we would most likely not all be together again.
This thought still gets me so sad as I write this blog post. The people that we surround ourselves with is so important—they can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us—and to have had such an incredible experience with these people that inspired me to be the best I can be, I’m forever grateful.
I might not still be in India in the magical place of Govardhan Village with my amazing SuperSoul yogi’s but every time I play my harmonium and sing,
“hare Krishna, hare Krishna,
hare, hare, hare rama,
I’m able to go right back to that place in those moments—chanting before the sunrise, sitting and listening to satsang in the evening, playing harmonium under the moon light with the Radharani orchestra, or dancing at the flower festival. It will forever remind me to stay open, to be authentic and to trust whatever will be, will be.
Namaste yogis 🙂
I might be heading off to India for the month of January, but that doesn’t mean that you, 2016 Boston Marathon runners, will be all alone as you take on the frigid temperatures and snow during the base of your marathon training! Below, I have outlined key tips and advice that will get your training off to a great start. (Feel free to also listen to my Podcast on Runner’s Connect where I discuss many of the points I have outlined below).
This is a great time, even if you’re not running the Boston marathon, to establish a consistent yoga practice that will keep you injury-free, make you stronger and also help you with the anxiety that comes with taking on a big goal and the desire to do well.
Happy running and yoga!
1. Start yoga NOW: Now is the time to get your yoga on! Yoga is essential for building flexibility, strength and focus into your running practice. As you begin to get into your training routine and building up mileage, it’s important to integrate yoga from the start. This will make a HUGE difference in your training, especially as you head towards your big 20 mile run. Here are some classes I would recommend:
2. Integrate yoga as part of your training, not an extension of it: Plan your yoga just like you would do with your runs. I would recommend practicing 2 or 3 times per week. Two practices being used for cross training/strength building and one class being for recovery. These practices do not have to be classes, they can be done at home on your own (feel free to check out my videos on my iphone app).
If you’re planning on taking a class and are not sure what kind of class to take, here’s a guide. However, each class will vary depending on the teacher so keep that in mind.
3. Be careful of hot yoga. With the room being warm, you will feel like your body is more open, which it is, but this can cause you to go deep into poses and possibly cause you to over stretch areas of your body. Your body is going through a lot of stress already with your running regime, so be careful when practicing that you’re not pushing it and are leaving your competitive nature outside of the yoga room. A great indication of when to back off is when your breath becomes short and/or almost non existent.
4. Get your pre-game on. Before your run, set an intention. Let your intention reflect why you run or are running. Take a moment to connect to the “why” to get inspired. Follow up your intention setting practice up with a routine you do every time you run. It could consist of a pre-run yoga warm-up, listening to a favorite song that gets you pumped up and/or a five minute seated meditation. Routine is key and by establishing a mechanism to get your mind in the game, you will notice that mentally you will be able to dig deep much easier on your run.
5. Be Flexible: Approach your training plan with the mindset that it will change. As the miles start to increase, your body and/or mind might need to skip some runs. Stay focused on completing at least 3 runs per week; your long run, speed/hill/pace workout (if you are a veteran marathoner and going for a specific time) and a regular base run. The most important run to complete is your long run. This is where cross training is important. Feel free to supplement yoga, spinning and/or swimming in the mix when your mind and/or body needs a break from running.
6. Run with people! Running with people has made a huge difference in my running. It has not only made me faster but I have way more fun running! There are a TON of running groups in Boston that will keep you motivated this winter. Here are some that I LOVE:
7. Work on Your Form: On easy runs challenge yourself to pay attention to your form. Here are some things for you to think about/work on.
8. Post-run yoga, do it! After you complete any workout-out, dedicate at least 10 minutes to stretch and do some core work. Here’s a quick 5 pose yoga sequence that’s perfect to do post-workout. Here are also some stretches/yoga poses that you can integrate as well: